Beijing Forever

Beijing, as most Chinese know it, was a neglected relic after the Japanese occupation of World War II and the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, when the victorious communists moved the capital back there from Nanjing, it was a bankrupt town of 1.4 million people; almost nothing of any consequence was made or manufactured there. But the path to the shining communist future lay through industry, at least according to the Soviets, who had already put a quarter of Muscovites to work in new factories, and from the rostrum in Tiananmen Square, Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong called for an "ocean of smokestacks" to rise over Beijing's traditional skyline of one-story courtyards.

History, Society, Urban Life